Jeremy Lin: David Stern's Appeal of Bird Rights Will Force Fan Backlash
After arbitrator Kenneth Dam sided with the NBA Players Association in a dispute about Bird rights that would affect Jeremy Lin among others, league commissioner David Stern is now appealing the decision (via the New York Post's Marc Berman):
According to a league official, Stern’s plan to appeal the union’s victory in the Jeremy Lin/Steve Novak Bird rights war may carry over into the July 1 start of free agency. That would delay the Knicks’ ability to negotiate for any free agent and create a public-relations nightmare for Stern, whose office is in midtown.
The ruling concerns whether four players will be assigned Bird rights with teams that claimed them off waivers during the 2011-12 season.
Typically, a player who's spent either two or three years with the same club may re-sign with that club even if the new deal exceeds the league's salary cap. Those exceptions are referred to as the Early Bird exception (after two years with the same team) and the Larry Bird exception (after three years with that team).
The NBA has maintained that Lin, Novak, Chauncey Billups and J.J. Hickson forfeited their Bird rights by signing with new teams.
The Players Association, however, has argued that players shouldn't be penalized for making the best out of situations in which they were waived. Had those four players remained with their original teams, they'd have had neither the opportunity nor motive to sign with their new ones.
The Knicks stand to lose more than any other franchise from a reversal of Dam's ruling.
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That further means that Stern will almost certainly draw the ire of the proud Knickerbockers fan base—a poor decision given how thoroughly he's already alienated legions of NBA-watchers.
After a lockout that trimmed the season to 66 games, Stern's popularity is already at an all-time low. A postseason seemingly defined by questionable officiating and a draft lottery that improbably awarded the league-owned Hornets the first overall selection haven't helped matters.
If Stern has his way, it may mean the end of the road for sharpshooter Novak's stint in New York, and the headache wouldn't end there.
Without the ability to re-sign rising star Lin, NYC would instead have to use up its mid-level cap exception. That could make it difficult to retain J.R. Smith or otherwise pursue outside talent on the free-agent market.
Don't be surprised if Stern starts looking for a new office outside of New York City.
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